When crossroads become roundabouts

Dear quarter lives,

There is a narrative we are told about decision-making and in that story lies ahead of us always a crucial choice we must make that will change our lives forever. A crossroads, they call it. And we find ourselves overwhelmed by the pressure of this decision. What if it is the wrong one? What if it all goes to shit? But yet we forget that this is not the only choice that we will ever have to make. There are always more choices after. But it is precisely this never-ending relationship with choice that overwhelms us. It is the nature of that relationship to always lie in uncertainty. And it is our discomfort with uncertainty that paralyses us and postpones our confrontation with choice. It is not choice though that we must confront, it is the unknown. And what is more unknown than death. That is why sometimes making a choice feels like it’s a life or death situation. A choice between what we perceive life to be —certain— and what we perceive death to be —uncertain. We want to be sure we will make it, that we will survive the choice. And that’s why at every crossroads we pause. We wait trying to see if we can find any clues as to which road is the “right” one. And so we prolong and postpone this decision until the crossroads becomes a roundabout that we circle endlessly missing every turn because we’re afraid to take a wrong one. But that fear serves only to keep us where we are. We remain stuck and more confused wondering why this crossroads has not passed, why we’re still here, why it’s taking so long. It is not always true that when in doubt do nothing. It is really sometimes , more often than not, much better to take any action than no action at all. Perhaps our fear of death is a legitimate one, after all it is engrained in our DNA to survive at all costs. But what we forget to remember too is that there is no precaution we can take to escape death when it decides to come for us. There is no manual on how to defend yourself against death. Death is not a predator on the hunt, it does not chase us not knowing if it will catch us. It is always certain of its aim. And so if anything perhaps it is death that is certain and life the uncertain one. Perhaps then our fear is not of the certainty of death but of the uncertainty of life. Life seems to rely largely on us and our decisions. Our choices seem to determine what kind of experience we have. So perhaps this pressure to live an “ideal” life has left us crumbling under its weight. We are afraid to fail at life so we stop living all together. And there is no greater discomfort than not knowing where one stands. This in between life and death place that we inhabit because we are afraid is no place for anyone.

It is daunting to step back into life after having been away for so long especially because this is all we’ve ever known. We are the product of scared parents who are too the product of scared parents who were products of scared parents before them. But it is now up to us to walk into our own lives and take responsibility for the experience we have and the choices we make, whilst knowing that there is no ideal life waiting for us at the end so there aren’t any right or wrong choices to make. There are just choices to make. And if we happen to make a choice we don’t enjoy then that is okay too. It is okay to be “wrong”. To fail. It is okay to not be ideal but to know always that we are bound to make choices that don’t feel good but that we are also bound to make ones that feel great and in the end all of it won’t matter anyway when we die. So if anything death could help us choose more easily without worrying too much about it. It could help relieve this pressure we feel about decision making. If anything, it will at least help you sleep better at night knowing that nothing really matters all that much even our own lives. So remember death when you find yourself crippled by choice, and just say fuck it and decide anyway. May your crossroads never turn into roundabouts ever again.

Always with love,